The alleged al-Qaida mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed, boasted of being personally responsible for decapitating the
US journalist Daniel Pearl five years ago, in a new transcript released
by the Pentagon writes Ewen MacAskill on

The claim comes on top of 30 other al-Qaida operations he said he been involved in.

Mohammed, 42, a Pakistani brought up in Kuwait, claimed he was the shadowy figure shown in a video of the beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter. "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan," the transcript quotes him as saying.

A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said the passage was withheld from 26 pages of his "confession" released on Wednesday to allow time to inform Pearl's wife, Mariane. They also have a son, Adam, born four months after his death.

In the full transcript Mohammed admits responsibility for 31 actual or planned plots, ranging from the attacks on New York to "an operation to destroy Heathrow airport, the Canary Wharf building and Big Ben on British soil".

Former CIA and state department analysts, as well as independent counterterrorism specialists, said yesterday that it was feasible that Mohammed had been involved in all the operations he claims, though his links to some may have been tenuous and some plans never went further than being aspirations.

Human rights organisations expressed concern over a reference in the transcript that hinted at torture claims. In the transcript the president of the tribunal, who is from the military but whose name is not disclosed, referred to a written statement, apparently from Mohammed, "regarding alleged abuse or treatment that the detainee received".

In the transcript Mohammed claimed that Pearl, who had been investigating a trip made by Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, to Pakistan, had been working for the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

The video of his killing, entitled the Slaughter of the Spy-journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl, shows a man cutting Pearl's head off. His severed head is then held up by the hair. In the transcript Mohammed says: "For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head."

Several people have been convicted in Pakistan of the murder and sentenced to death, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.

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